Political Issues

As we begin to seek councilors who actually care about our future as an historic seaport community that is a ‘destination’ that lives off heritage tourism; we will need to set some goals that will need to be accomplished.        Some are easy and some are not so easy.

In my digging around in the Library archives and with some great help from the city auditor, William Squillace; a terrible injustice was discovered.      One of the indications that we are an ancient city are the monetary trusts that have been bequeathed to the City of Newburyport; more than one hundred and forty seven!      It is the intent as mandated by Massachusetts General Law that the wishes of the trust be followed and properly administered.    Newburyport during the twentieth century let these trusts lapse and in many cases, the interest was just redirected into the general fund.       To show you what a crime it was, one donor gave a large amount for that day ($10,000) to the city and also gave ($25,000) to the Boston Athenaeum.       Today, the later trust is at $7,000,000 plus and the city’s is at $100,000 plus.

Mayor Holaday has worked to fix that issue by creating an oversight committee that will actually treat these trust funds correctly.      It will take some time to get the trusts repaired and directed correctly but at least the process has begun.

Our city is not presently setup to service our heritage tourism economy and in many cases, stabs at the problem wildly without a systematic way to address and promote it.

The following issues will be expanded upon in later posts but here they are:

1.  Proper signage for the Newburyport Historic District and the local historic districts.

2. Installation of a new building inspector who is sympathetic to the exemption status of historic buildings.

3. Installation of a Public Restriction Tract Index in the Planning Office – cataloging easements and restrictions on historic buildings in the city.

4.  Rubber Sheeting process to find out where the wharves are presently located underground.

5. Establishment of an archeological ordinance.

6. Active support for National Landmark Status for the City.

7. Establishment of a Sidewalk Maintenance Plan for the city with historic brick largely installed within the Newburyport Historic District.

8. The Undergrounding of utility lines in the city.

9. The expansion of the Demolition Delay with a certification process on historic buildings.

10. Support the work of the Tree Commission.

11.  Support for the expansion of local historic districts in the city.

What I have not included are city tax credits or some funding system for historic homeowners.      With the present economic condition of the country, that is something that is not doable at this time.      It aught to be done since the more historic our neighborhoods in the historic district; the city becomes over all more prosperous.      Perhaps later, when the country as a whole begins to feel an improvement in its economy.

Stay tuned as I expand on these very important measures.

-P. Preservationist

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